When in the middle of the quattrocento lutenists began to use the fingers of their right hands to pluck the strings, the instrument made a quantum leap forward. Three- and four-part counterpoint was suddenly on the agenda and the expanded range of the repertory made the lute popular even in Italian court circles. O’Dette focuses on two of the earliest printed books of tablature by Spinacino (1507), Dalza (1508), and the handwritten book of music by Capirola (c1520). Whoever it was who wrote the last of these, his student ‘Vidal’ or Capriola himself, touchingly showed his human fallibility; in a book written with much TLC and lavishly adorned with paintings, he had to insert the missing ‘a’ in ‘Pado(a)na’ with a caret!
The selected items cover the basic genres of tastar de corde, recercare, dances and intabulations of vocal music by non-lutenist composers. In the last of these a lutenist demonstrated his skill in adapting and embellishing the original, as O’Dette does in his own intabulation of van Ghizegem’s De tous bien playne. What comes through clearly is the joyous freshness of this music and the quickly acquired ingenuity in bringing more complex counterpoint to the fingerboard, as though the right-hand fingers had uncorked a bottle and released an inspirational genie. O’Dette has many talents and an unusual ability to bring this music to life is one of them; another is shown in his superb annotation. It is a record to lift the spirits and the recording per se is appropriately first-class.'